The other day, a friend and I were having a conversation about what we would say to our fifteen year younger self if we could. If we could sit down, write a letter, fire up the ole’ flux capacitor and send Einstein (the dog, not the person) back in time with a note around his neck, what would the words say?

As I started thinking about it, there were tons of things that flooded in.

Fifteen years ago, I was an 18-year old kid coming out of high school with absolutely no idea what I was going to do in my life. Literally. No clue. I knew I had to go to school because that’s what you were supposed to do, possibly looking into the ministry because that is the family lineage, but as far as what I was really going to do with my life, I had no idea, no plan and really, no focus. I know, no plans…big shocker for me right?

Yet, in these last fifteen years, I have lived a lot of life. Learned a lot of lessons, most of the time the hard way, and tried to have a blast through it all.

But, what would I tell myself?

Here’s my thoughts.

Enjoy those nights walking into Blockbuster, studying the new arrivals wall for far too much time to find that great flick for the night. They won’t be around much longer and that is sad indeed. Also…grab the big box of candy on your way out.

Smile. Smile through it all. Actually…laugh. Have fun. You have one shot at this. Sometimes, laughing is the only thing that will heal the brokenness. Fortunately, you have friends that make sure of that. And yes, it’s still as harsh as it was in high school.

Enjoy getting a degree that you will never use, you really have no idea where it is and a graduation you never attended because of a basketball tournament you would have rather attended. Oh, and let’s not forget the $25K in debt you got with that paper too. Congrats.

Be present. I don’t think I really need to go too in depth into this, because you know what it means. But in case you don’t, be there, in the moment, with people…community. It will serve you well throughout the next 15 years at least.

Most of the stuff you have learned up to this point about religion will change dramatically over the next fifteen years. You’re about to go on a ride. But in the end, you find relationship, not religion, is what truly makes one content and helps you find Jesus.

Adding to that a bit, you’re going to be jaded. Things will happen that you never expected. The dreams you had, welp…not going to happen. But that’s a great thing. Seriously. You are now doing something you absolutely love. But you have rough edges. Work on the mouth. Anger makes it go a bit out of control. Do better. Please.

You have a little ratty haired four-year old running around that brings hope to your life, laughter, peace, and at times, plain tears because of your gratefulness that God thought enough of you to give you her and her amazing spirit. People will take shots at you at how you raise her from time to time. Realize most of that is just what it is, noise. Accept the praise from the people that matter. Little Hova is the best.

Failure, especially relationally, is going to get you down, hurt you. But I promise, it doesn’t take long to realize…you have it pretty good.

Counselors are good. Trust them. Jump into it. Let them help you. They are truly saving graces.

Look up. I don’t mean in a spiritual sense, I mean literally. Technology will come into play here really soon. Don’t live your life with your head down in it. Look up. See what life is. Experience.

Bro, seriously, you have some of the best parents in the world. Be grateful. They are pretty incredible. I could write for days on this, but I would rather you experience it.

As you get older, you don’t bounce back from physical activity as quickly as you do now. When you go all Derek Anderson on your knee, you will definitely know what I mean.

Embrace the emotional part of you. It’s a staple now. Just accept it and realize what it is.

Trust your gut. I am still awful at this. But your gut is right most of the time. Well, actually, a lot of the time. Trust it on decisions, friendships, careers and especially relationships. Seriously, trusting it will save you from sooo much drama.

Dance with fear. You are a fearful dude. Fearing making the wrong decisions, making a mistake, screwing it all up. Dance with the fear. Embrace it. There will be a lot of unknowns, even fifteen years later. The faster you learn to grab fear and do the Macarena with it (I swear to everything holy that song is of the devil), the happier you will be.

Finally, just love people. Love them at their best and their worst. Love them when you get nothing in return. Love them when you don’t feel like it. Love them even when it hurts. For that little girl is watching everything you do. Make her better than you.

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What would you say to your fifteen year younger self?